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Homelessness in the United States

  • 630,000 homeless in the US in 2012, thousands in Philadelphia
  • Over 3% of the US population has been homeless during the past 5 years
  • Homeless = no stable residence

Temporary shelters, unsheltered locations (the street, transit stations, parked cars), etc.

  • High rates of legal issues, substance abuse/dependency, & lack of stable employment

Severe mental illness = overrepresented & linked to severe health disparities

  • Higher risk for all-cause mortality (primarily due to injuries, overdose, CV disease)

Mortality rates 3-4x higher than the general population

Chronic & acute mental & physical health conditions

HIV, tuberculosis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, Hepatitis C

Life expectancy: 42-52 years for the chronically homeless

  • Disproportionately low numbers / low quality of social supports
  • The current “continuum of care” model:

Outreach à treatment à transitional housing à permanent supportive housing

Perceived by the homeless as a series of hurdles, often not possible to overcome

  • No empiric support in favor of the practice of requiring individuals to participate in psychiatric treatment or to maintain sobriety before being housed

Poor health is a risk factor for homelessness, and homelessness is a risk factor for increased health needs.

Publication Date



Housing First: A Solution to Urban Homelessness, CWIC, Thomas Jefferson University


Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health

Housing First: A Solution to Urban Homelessness

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